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Hu is on first; the US grounds out

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The White House and US Administration were unwitting props in a 'made for Chinese media' production of President Hu Jintao's "official" or "state" visit, depending on which side of the Pacific you reside. While the edited tapes will reflect that success in China (and elsewhere in Asia if broadcast from Chinese sources), Hu and the Chinese elite received what they perceived as a stinging series of insults that I think rival the anger that swept elite and populace alike over the bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade and the loss of a Chinese F-8 pilot and aircraft in the midair collision with a US Elint aircraft. Chinese will access around the Great Firewall will also learn of the slights, albeit more slowly.

We in the west have virtually no idea of the residue of anger and distrust that those events created and which successive events have not mollified. The accumulated US blunders, real, accidental and coincidental, of the Hu visit will have cemented in the minds of the Chinese elite that the current administration is disrespectful of China and what the Chinese see as their legitimate interests, and may be as anti-Chinese as it was at the beginning of the Bush43 administration.

A review of US press revealed a middle ground of analysis (also here). Of the "Doris Day" airbrushed versions, China Daily's rendering of Hu's visit was typical of what ordinary Chinese without means to pierce the Great Firewall will see. It achieves the state visit aura that Hu and the CCP were seeking. The reality and the impact upon Chinese elites is vastly different and I think will drive Chinese interpretations of US actions for the foreseeable future.

Of the blunt reality versions, the Czech press said what the US press would not. The front page headline of Czechoslovakia's largest circulating paper, "Mlada Fronta Dnes" put pictures of the Bush43-Hu debacle under the headline, "Americans Make Fools of Themselves in Front of the Chinese President."

To draw out the impact to the Chinese of keeping or losing face as well as the meaning of words or deeds that take on a much greater stature in Chinese minds than in Americans, I will comment briefly on Hu the individual, the great lengths to which the Chinese attempted to design the visit so as to maximize face, and then the example of the negotiations over the 2001 aerial collision near Hainan Island.

Both Hu and China's current circumstances are at variance to recent history:

[In] Hu , China has its least cosmopolitan leader since Mao. Deng Xiaoping lived in Paris as a young man, and was smitten there with an exotic Western ideology - communism.

Jiang Zemin, his successor, trained in the Soviet Union, and speaks Russian, as well as halting English. He retained a lively curiosity toward the broader world, reciting snippets of the "Gettysburg Address" to regale foreign audiences.

Hu has never lived outside of China, and indeed has spent much of his career working his way up the party hierarchy in poor and conservative backwaters, places like Tibet and Guizhou Province, where even foreign modes so eagerly embraced by China as market capitalism have arrived both late and weak.

Hu has spoken pointedly in rejection of the Western idea of liberalism, and has worked quietly but with remarkable effectiveness at reconfiguring China's foreign relations in ways that dilute what was only recently the overwhelmingly preponderant influence of the United States...

"The United States used to be the center of [China's] foreign policy... Now China is playing chess in all directions, in a way that counts Europe, Asia, Russia and others. That is Hu Jintao's foreign policy."

I do not think it unkind to describe Hu as a superb CCP party apparatchik that is seeking to cement his legitimacy by gaining peer great nation - and great leader - status from the US visit that could be reflected back to China. Moreover, Hu is attempting to secure control in a period of "unprecedented controversy and dissent" among the Chinese elite, some of whom have fallen prey to oligarchy even as the poor slip towards populism:

The Chinese are obsessed with face - 80 percent of all pre-trip negotiations between Washington and Beijing were about protocol and not substance - said John Tkacik, senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation…

Michael Green noted that "China's domestic political context looms large in Hu's mind, [that] Hu would like to "come out of this meeting with all of the pomp and circumstance and protocol a Chinese leader needs to convey to his public when he travels abroad." "It'll look good on TV in Guangzhou and Sichuan"…

China had to bridge Hu's advertised "state visit" with the "official visit" on offer from the US; the South Lawn red carpet and 21-gun salute substituting for the denied state dinner. Hu had no interest in satisfying Bush43's preference for informal entertainment at his Texas ranch. Texas would not offer Hu the telegenic qualities required for Chinese television as well as presenting Hu, as events in DC ultimately bore out, with far more in-depth conversation time than the Chinese desired.

Before delving into my list of slights the White House offered to Hu, we need context for the importance that the Chinese attach to words and symbols such as that offered by Nicholas Berry, then at CDI. (This brief note, Seven Thoughts from Beijing, is reproduced in full as CDI confirms that it is no longer available on the web.):

The following conclusions are drawn from four days in Beijing commencing immediately after the EP-3 collision with a Chinese fighter plane, after 2 1/2 hours of talks with a dozen members of the China Reform Forum (an association of foreign policy analysts and officials who advise the Communist Party), watching and reading the media, and a conversation with a Burmese businessman who supervises Chinese workers.
1. Chinese officials and the general population are universally angry at the United States. The first reports here from Washington portrayed Bush as loudly demanding the release of the plane and crew. There was no mention of American concern for the fate of the Chinese pilot, no request for a joint investigation, and no statement of American remorse for the accident -- only arrogance, or so it seemed to the Chinese.
2. The United States, not China, broke international law according to the Chinese. The EP-3 was not engaged in innocent passage and violated Chinese sovereignty and territorial integrity by landing without permission on Hainan.
3. The refrain: "Why, if the U.S. is friendly towards China, do you spy on us?" was raised more than once. Although naive, this view portrays the United States as regarding China as an enemy.
4. The demand for an apology was universal. In Chinese culture an apology is considered good form, a way to clear the air to begin again, and is fully and routinely expected when harm is done. The Chinese found it strange that the word "apologize" is rarely used in American culture and diplomacy (because it is seen to signify subordination and unworthiness).
The Chinese are as ignorant of American culture as, apparently, is the White House.
5. No one could or would answer the question: "What if Bush does not apologize; what does the Chinese government do then?" Shifting subjects a bit, all expressed the hope that there would be a quiet, peaceful resolution of the dispute. Too much is at stake, they said, to transform the dispute into a conflict.
6. The Chinese government from the beginning made it clear that it did not want public protests. One began near the U.S. embassy, but the protesters were bused off and their signs confiscated. The protest shutdown was shown on TV. The public got the message.
7. The Bush foreign policy team is seen as having one foot still planted in the Cold War. Chinese officials, who remember fondly the Bush family ("They rode around Beijing on bicycles"), are disappointed with George W.

The lost pilot, Wang Wei, is now a state hero. The second pilot, Zhao Yu, was refused permission to shoot down the EP-3 by Chinese ground control. We were that close to an act of war. (Zhao also claimed that the EP-3 "veered abruptly, the propeller on its left wing smashing into Wang's plane" whereas the EP-3 Aeries was actually "in straight and level flight on autopilot at the time." Wang "apparently misjudged the intercept [on his third and closer pass] and his vertical stabilizer struck the outboard left propeller." All this fed into the demands on both sides for the other to retract and take sole responsibility.)

The article that followed Berry's in the Weekly Defense Monitor, The EP-3E Standoff Ends. Now What? continues the linguistic and symbolic battle and is fortunately mirrored on the web:

Wednesday China announced that it would release the 24 Americans whose plane made an emergency landing on Hainan Island after colliding with a Chinese F-8 fighter in international airspace. The exact timing of the release depends on completion of "appropriate travel procedures." Nothing in the Chinese announcement made any reference to when, if ever, the EP-3E will be returned as demanded by President Bush the day after the accident occurred.

Most attention during the 11-day standoff centered on parsing Chinese and English words that would satisfy both sides. The Chinese wanted a formal apology, linguistically implying U.S. responsibility for the accident that could be stretched to include wrong doing in conducting regular surveillance flights off the Chinese coast. The Bush Administration expressed "regret" (sorrow or remorse) for the accident, said it was "very sorry" (sympathetic) both for the loss (Chinese pilot and his aircraft) suffered by the Chinese people and the pilot's family and for the EP-3E's "entering of China's airspace and the landing" when the plane "did not have verbal clearance."

If the very public diplomatic wrestling was strenuous, the behind-the-scenes linguistic ballet that could define the situation and resolve the matter was delicate. It was an exercise reminiscent of a western philosophical school of the medieval period which said that one must name something before its attributes could be defined. In this case, "naming" a statement an apology rather than a regret defines a host of different realities -- international legal, moral, and potentially financial. Finding the right words thus was also a philosophical challenge.

One lesson that Americans -- especially politicians, policy makers, and opinion molders -- should draw from this episode is that words can matter as much as deeds. This is especially true in dealing with non-Western cultures whose philosophies and languages can be extremely precise. For example, in general English usage, one could interchange the words "competitor" and "opponent" without committing linguistic murder. Yet when applied to a specific case in the international arena, the nuances are as real as those between sorrow, regret, and apology.

In this regard, a very significant danger lies ahead after the EP-3E crew is safely back from their detainment. Those who see China as a strategic opponent bent on driving American influence from East Asia -- which goes far beyond Mr. Bush's characterization of China as a strategic competitor -- will declare that Chinese demands for an apology were part of Beijing's long-term plan to diminish if not eliminate America's position and prestige. They may even try to justify punitive actions against Beijing before the start (April 18) of meetings to discuss the cause of the accident and to define parameters that will reduce the chances of similar situations in the future. (A 1998 U.S. Defense Department - People's Republic of China Ministry of Defense Accord provides for such meetings to discuss issues involving operations and safety of maritime and air forces in and over international waters.)…

The most dangerous period ahead is the period between the return of the American crew and the April 18 start of the discussions to determine the facts of the accident. In this interim, intemperate rhetoric -- especially from either country's military -- that "names" a winner in the diplomatic standoff or faults the other side will only make the investigation more contentious. Such an outcome will serve no one's interests other than those who need to justify their paranoia by naming -- and thus creating -- a new "Evil Empire."

One wonders how we seem to have so quickly forgotten this lesson.

Part 2

Czech Take on Hu Visit
posted by Praguetwin
April 22, 2006

In Hu's Visit to the U.S., Small Gaffes May Overshadow Small Gains
By JOSEPH KAHN
Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters
Published: April 22, 2006

Hu Meets Bush, Discussing Trade, Taiwan, and Security
China Daily
April 21, 2006

Bush-Hu Meeting To Highlight Role That China Plays
Iran, North Korea at Top of the Agenda
By Glenn Kessler
Washington Post
April 20, 2006

PRESIDENT HU TOURS U.S.
PAUL SOLMAN
NewsHour
April 19, 2006

Picking the right host
Liu Kin-ming
The Standard (China's Business Newspaper, HK)
April 18, 2006

At a Secret Meeting, Chinese Analysts Clashed Over Reforms
By JOSEPH KAHN
New York Times
April 7, 2006

Letter from Shanghai: Behind the U.S. decline of influence in China
Howard W. French
International Herald Tribune
MARCH 22, 2006

Rumsfeld sets new China tone
By Jing-dong Yuan
Asia Times
Oct 21, 2005

US: China has credible Taiwan attack options
By Stephen Blank
Asia Times
Mar 2, 2004

Three of a kind: India, China and Russia
By Sultan Shahin
Asia Times
Sep 27, 2003

China in transition: Is real change imminent?
by Bates Gill
Great Decisions
2003

A new opportunity for Sino-US relations
By Jing-dong Yuan
Asia Times
February 13, 2002

U.S.-China Relations: Immediate Crisis Resolved, but Many Challenges Ahead
Bates Gill, Freeman Chair in China Studies, CSIS
Newsweek Korea
April 18, 2001

China Policy, Without Regrets
Bates Gill, Freeman Chair in China Studies, CSIS
New York Times
April 12, 2001

The EP-3E Standoff Ends. Now What?
Colonel Daniel Smith, USA (Ret.)
The Weekly Defense Monitor
Center for Defense Information
VOLUME 5, ISSUE #15, April 12, 2001
Original scrolled
off
Mirror

Seven Thoughts from Beijing
Nicholas Berry
The Weekly Defense Monitor
Center for Defense Information
VOLUME 5, ISSUE #15, April 12, 2001
Via E-Mail distribution, not available online
FAIR USE NOTICE: Use of this copyrighted material has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law.

AN INSIDE LOOK AT THE CHINA RESCUE MISSION
By Captain Guy Greider
Continental Airlines
April 12, 2001

U.S., China deal falters over standoff letter
By staff and wire reports/CNN
April 9, 2001
Web posted at: 11:16 PM EDT (0316 GMT)

Hainan Incident: Loud Wake-Up Call for the Region
Bates Gill, Freeman Chair in China Studies, CSIS
Newsweek Korea
April 6, 2001

Spy Plane Standoff
CNN WOLF BLITZER REPORTS
April 3, 2001

Chinese Embassy Bombing--Media Reply, FAIR Responds
FAIR
11/3/99

U.S. Media Overlook Expose on Chinese Embassy Bombing
FAIR
10/22/99

NATO expresses regret, resolve after bombing Chinese embassy
Outdated intelligence may be to blame for 'very bad mistake'
CNN
May 8, 1999, Web posted at: 8:31 p.m. EDT (0031 GMT)

Gordon Housworth



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Confluence of anti-Semitic, pro-Fascist sentiments of the "Radio Priest" and Nazi-tolerant sentiments of US business

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Preceding: Jewish American and Israeli perspectives on AIPAC and its marriage of convenience with Evangelicals

Today's marriage of convenience between American Jews and Evangelicals is a welcome relief for Jews accustomed to attack by most Christian sects here, in Europe and wherever a Christian sect held sway. (Jews historically fared better under Muslim suzerain than Christian.) One cannot blame Jews for wishing to continue the current arms length relationship as the alternative is lessened security and perhaps renewed persecution of varying degree. The epicenter of 20th Century American religious attack upon Jews is actually close by as I write - the Shrine of the Little Flower church in Royal Oak, Michigan, the pulpit of the "Radio Priest," Father Charles E. Coughlin, whose anti-Semitic and pro-Fascist sentiments outraged Jews. It is sad to say that Coughlin was ultimately removed not for his assault upon Jews but his support for Nazi Germany and encouragement of a far right Catholic front group that was seen as an increasingly destabilizing element in the US political landscape, i.e., Jews remember that Coughlin's religious sentiments were not overturned or repudiated, only his support of a foreign power with whom the US ultimately went to war.

I think it useful to explore Coughlin and the period in which he prospered, as well as the enchantment between US business interests and Nazi Germany in the prewar years. (Remember that Roosevelt had to nanny the US out of isolationism and into war.) I believe that there are parallels of that period to the enchantment that occurs today between US business and China.

Shrine of the Little Flower is a remarkably beautiful church and bell tower, Beaux-Arts and Art Deco rather than Gothic or Romanesque. Henry McGill was the architect. Rene Chambellan executed the sculptural facade of its Charity Crucifixion Tower. It's singular beauty (photos here and here) belies the venom that Coughlin spewed from its pulpit and from the radio broadcast center in its Charity Crucifixion Tower. Older Jewish friends here virtually spit Coughlin's name. Few recordings of his sermons in full flight are available free (but are available for fee, see below) but all are chilling. Many in the Detroit area, Jew and Gentile alike, still connect the church to Coughlin and the stain in the minds of those of a certain age still hangs over it to this day.

In May 1925, Bishop Michael Gallagher named his new church for St Teresa of the Little Flower, locating it in a then distant suburb of Detroit, Michigan, even though "only 28 Catholic families resided there at the time because he foresaw that the booming auto industry would attract many Catholics to the area." In parallel, Gallagher had selected a Canadian priest for his already demonstrated ability to generate Mass attendance, Father Charles E. Coughlin:

One of the first public figures to make effective use of the airwaves, Charles E. Coughlin, was for a time one of the most influential personalities on American radio. At the height of his popularity in the early 1930s, some 30 million listeners tuned in to hear his emotional messages. Many of his speeches were rambling, disorganized, repetitious, and as time went by, they became increasingly full of bigoted rhetoric. But as a champion of the poor, a foe of big business, and a critic of federal indifference in the face of widespread economic distress, he spoke to the hopes and fears of lower-middle class Americans throughout the country. Years later, a supporter remembered the excitement of attending one of his rallies: "When he spoke it was a thrill like Hitler. And the magnetism was uncanny. It was so intoxicating, there's no use saying what he talked about..."

I think Coughlin is a forgotten orator worthy of being ranked along with Roosevelt, Churchill, Hitler and Goebbels. The New York Times noted:

Coughlin became a leading spokesman of the ''America for Americans'' movement of the 1930's. Along with such ''lunatic fringe'' figures as Gerald L. K. Smith and Francis E. Townsend, he formed the National Union for Social Justice, its primary purpose being the dumping of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. These were the years of the Great Depression. Institutions were being threatened. People were looking for demons and evildoers. Demagogues were popping up all over the landscape to provide them. Father Coughlin, giving his followers a little bit of everything, made impassioned speeches against both Communism and capitalism, the latter scorned for its concentration of wealth and profit-taking.

Coughlin began broadcasting in 1926 over WJR in Detroit; his "Hour of Power" on Sunday afternoon became a national pulpit:

[With] a nationwide listenership of 40 million in the 1930's, [Coughlin] raised huge amounts of money on the radio. And while at the beginning of the Depression Coughlin sounded like a Populist in the tradition of Huey Long, he became more and more extreme. Jewish bankers caused the Depression… Hitler and Mussolini, while stern authoritarians, should be supported, because that's what it takes to get rid of Communists. "Coughlin berated Jews, he berated Blacks, he was just hateful… "

Donations of ordinary folks in response to Coughlin's radio callings provided virtually all of the money to build the church and tower, and after being thrown off the air by CBS, underwrote his purchase of radio airtime for Coughlin and his National Union for Social Justice (NUSJ). At his zenith in the 1930s, Coughlin was commanding 30 million plus listeners. No wonder he was called the Radio Priest. Without the donations of so many ordinary people, Coughlin's brand of evil would never have taken wing:

Although anti-Semitic themes appeared in some of Coughlin's speeches fairly early in his career, it wasn't until the late 1930s that the priest's rhetoric became increasingly filled with attacks on Jews. By 1938, the pages of "Social Justice" were frequently filled with accusations about Jewish control of America's financial institutions. In the summer of that year, Coughlin published a version of "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion." A virulently anti-Semitic piece of propaganda that had originated in Russia at the turn of the century, the "Protocols" accused Jews of planning to seize control of the world. Jewish leaders were shocked by Coughlin's actions.

Later that year, the radio priest delivered perhaps his most startling and hateful speech to date. In response to the November 10, 1938, "Kristallnacht" attack on Jews in German-controlled territory, Coughlin began by asking, "Why is there persecution in Germany today?" He went on to explain that "Jewish persecution only followed after Christians first were persecuted."

The owner of WMCA, the New York station that carried Coughlin's show, refused to broadcast Coughlin's next radio message. The Nazi press reacted to the news with fury: "America is Not Allowed to Hear the Truth" declared one headline. "Jewish organizations camouflaged as American...have conducted such a campaign...that the radio station company has proceeded to muzzle the well-loved Father Coughlin." A "New York Times" correspondent in Germany noted that Coughlin had become for the moment "the hero of Nazi Germany."

While I admit to being inexpert on leftist/labor activities of the 1930s, it appears that a journalist for the Daily Worker, Abe Magil, was responsible for first outing Coughlin's extremist views:

Speaking to millions of radio listeners every Sunday morning from his church just outside Detroit, at first Coughlin hid his extremism and anti-Semitism in his broadcasts, but not in his church sermons. With some trepidation, Magil began attending Coughlin’s sermons, and wrote the first exposé of Father Coughlin’s neo-fascist, vitriolic anti-Semitism for the Daily Worker.

Coughlin reflected what a Jewish colleague described as the monotonously precise Nazi delivery of the idea that Germany would be returned:

to its "rightful" place in the world and correct the wrongs perpetrated on them by the world community and the 5th column of traitors within Germany that had subverted the nation and signed an capitulation in the form of the Armistice because of the evil of the Jews, liberals, trade unionists and other progressives. Of course dis-employing all the Jews would (and did) open up jobs and advancement to the non-Jews would be one more 'rational' motivation… And of course the Nazis hid (barely) the truth of the exterminating death camps so that the rest of Germany could feel moral and civilized…

Some historians say that the only force Hitler worried about opposing him within Germany was the Lutheran Church. Outside of Germany, the key issue of the day was not death camps, world domination of Hitler but "non-interventionism"… The greatest evils have been described by as arriving with a banal face… From my vantage organized evil creeps slowly on its hands and knees and eschews all shouting and other recognizable drama.

Many in business were not so observant. We forget that Hitler and his National Socialist movement retained an aura of social acceptability among too large a segment of US culture and business well after Kristallnacht, not the least of which were Henry Ford, Father Coughlin, Charles Lindberg, even the architect Philip Johnson. From Profits über Alles! American Corporations and Hitler:

[Hitler] sent mixed signals [to] American businessmen [who] Like their German counterparts… long worried about the intentions and the methods of this plebeian upstart, whose ideology was called National Socialism, whose party identified itself as a workers' party, and who spoke ominously of bringing about revolutionary change. Some high-profile leaders of corporate America, however, such as Henry Ford liked and admired the Führer at an early stage. Other precocious Hitler-admirers were press lord Randolph Hearst and Irénée Du Pont, head of the Du Pont trust, who… had already "keenly followed the career of the future Führer in the 1920s" and supported him financially. Eventually, most American captains of industry learned to love the Führer…

In the 1920s many big American corporations enjoyed sizeable investments in Germany. IBM established a German subsidiary, Dehomag, before World War I; in the 1920s General Motors took over Germany's largest car manufacturer, Adam Opel AG; and Ford founded a branch plant, later known as the Ford-Werke, in Cologne. Other US firms contracted strategic partnerships with German companies. Standard Oil of New Jersey — today's Exxon — developed intimate links with the German trust IG Farben. By the early 1930s, an élite of about twenty of the largest American corporations had a German connection including Du Pont, Union Carbide, Westinghouse, General Electric, Gilette, Goodrich, Singer, Eastman Kodak, Coca-Cola, IBM, and ITT. Finally, many American law firms, investment companies, and banks were deeply involved in America's investment offensive in Germany, among them the renowned Wall Street law firm Sullivan & Cromwell, and the banks J. P. Morgan and Dillon, Read and Company, as well as the Union Bank of New York, owned by Brown Brothers & Harriman. The Union Bank was intimately linked with the financial and industrial empire of German steel magnate Thyssen, whose financial support enabled Hitler to come to power. This bank was managed by Prescott Bush, grandfather of George W. Bush. Prescott Bush was allegedly also an eager supporter of Hitler, funnelled money to him via Thyssen, and in return made considerable profits by doing business with Nazi Germany; with the profits he launched his son, the later president, in the oil business.

American overseas ventures fared poorly in the early 1930s, as the Great Depression hit Germany particularly hard. Production and profits dropped precipitously, the political situation was extremely unstable, there were constant strikes and street battles between Nazis and Communists, and many feared that the country was ripe for a "red" revolution like the one that had brought the Bolsheviks to power in Russia in 1917. However, backed by the power and money of German industrialists… Hitler came to power in January 1933…

American business leaders with assets in Germany found to their immense satisfaction that his so-called revolution respected the socio-economic status quo. The Führer's Teutonic brand of fascism, like every other variety of fascism, was reactionary in nature, and extremely useful for capitalists' purposes. Brought to power by Germany's leading businessmen and bankers, Hitler served the interests of his "enablers." His first major initiative was to dissolve the labour unions and to throw the Communists, and many militant Socialists, into prisons and the first concentration camps, which were specifically set up to accommodate the overabundance of left-wing political prisoners. This ruthless measure not only removed the threat of revolutionary change — embodied by Germany's Communists — but also emasculated the German working class and transformed it into a powerless "mass of followers" (Gefolgschaft), to use Nazi terminology, which was unconditionally put at the disposal of their employers, the Thyssens and Krupps.

Most, if not all firms in Germany, including American branch plants, eagerly took advantage of this situation and cut labour costs drastically. The Ford-Werke, for example, reduced labour costs from fifteen per cent of business volume in 1933 to only eleven per cent in 1938… Coca-Cola's bottling plant in Essen increased its profitability considerably because, in Hitler's state, workers "were little more than serfs forbidden not only to strike, but to change jobs," driven "to work harder [and] faster" while their wages "were deliberately set quite low." In Nazi Germany, real wages indeed declined rapidly, while profits increased correspondingly, but there were no labour problems worth mentioning, for any attempt to organize a strike immediately triggered an armed response by the Gestapo, resulting in arrests and dismissals. This was the case in GM's Opel factory in Rüsselsheim in June 1936… As the Thuringian teacher and anti-fascist resistance member Otto Jenssen wrote after the war, Germany's corporate leaders were happy "that fear for the concentration camp made the German workers as meek as lapdogs." The owners and managers of American corporations with investments in Germany were no less enchanted, and if they openly expressed their admiration or Hitler — as did the chairman of General Motors, William Knudsen, and ITT-boss Sosthenes Behn — it was undoubtedly because he had resolved Germany's social problems in a manner that benefited their interests.

Jews within my circle of friends forget none of the above. Were I them I would take the supplications of deluded Evangelicals. I like to think this a version of Sun-Tzu's "Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer."

I submit that Profits über Alles! American Corporations and Hitler has relevance to China where business, be it from the US, Taiwan, Japan or Europe, is by and large anxious to expand its business there and is willing to put aside issues of censorship, labor relations, forced relocation of peasantry, pollution and other elements beyond the profit motive. And before anyone thinks that I am rushing to a moral judgment or that 'business is evil, think of all the many shareholders that are most pleased with the quarter to quarter profits that those investments produce in distant lands - just like the 1930s in Germany. One has to wonder how similar the outcomes will be.

This Catholic church is born again
Evangelical approach helps attendance soar
By Margaret Ramirez
Chicago Tribune
Published April 15, 2006

Profits über Alles! American Corporations and Hitler
Jacques R. Pauwels
History Cooperative
Spring 2003

Abe Magil: A tribute to a working class, Marxist journalist
People's Week World
Mar 22, 2003

Reverend Charles E. Coughlin (1891-1979)
American and the Holocaust
American Experience
1999

Review/Television; Father Coughlin, 'The Radio Priest'
By JOHN J. O'CONNOR
New York Times
December 13, 1988

Father Couglin, the "radio priest"
Bobby's Digital Old Time Radio Page
BROADCAST HISTORY:
1926, WJR, Detroit.
1926-30, WMAQ, Chicago; WLW, Cincinnati. Oct. 5, 1930-Apri15, 1931, CBS. 6Om, Sundays at 7.
1931-42, private network; heard Sundays throughout the land on many independent stations.

FATHER COUGHLIN
Radio Memories
Radio Memories Program index
Father Coughlin, Vol. 1 - BS 068
Father Coughlin, Vol. 4 - BS 338
Father Coughlin, Vol. 5 - BS 339
Father Coughlin, Vol. 6 - BS 340
Father Coughlin, Vol. 7 - BS 341
Father Coughlin, Vol. 8 - BS 342
Father Coughlin, Vol. 9 - BS 343
Father Coughlin, Vol. 10 - BS 344
Father Coughlin, Vol. 11 - BS 345
Father Coughlin, Vol. 12 - BS 346

Gordon Housworth



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Jewish American and Israeli perspectives on AIPAC and its marriage of convenience with Evangelicals

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In response to the AIPAC trilogy (parts 1, 2 and 3), a very dear friend attempted to put things into a Jewish American perspective:

Yes we Jews have become very effective in "persuading Congress et al" [sender's quotation marks]. Most who are my age remember all too well the boats being turned away, the interception of boats on the way to the Palestine Mandate, the refusal to at least bomb the railways to the death camps, the caveats in the property deeds, the fighting our way into and out of school. Shall I make the list longer?

Our efforts to control power given our absolute small percentage of the total population have been quite successful and long shall it be so. To not do so would condemn us to the rampant anti semitism one sees in France. It is only under the surface here in the good old U S of A… I felt it every day in commerce whether it was the guy off the street who said I was trying to jew him down to the owner of a stamping plant who referred to us as "sheenies".

Gordon, my contribution to AIPAC is on the way.

[Sheeny; sheenies: a derogatory term for a Jew or Jews. Origin is generally listed as unknown but it may be based on the German "schon" or beautiful, an adjective used by Yiddish merchants in advertising their wares]

I can sympathize with the "only under the surface" comment as I had an older relative, a courtly southern gentleman until circumstances drove him to drink, that began to ascribe anything amiss or bad as the fault of "dirty niggers and sheeny Jews," over and over. It was nothing short of stunning as I'd previously never heard those words from him.

In the late 70s or early 80s, I was sitting in the living room of my Israeli distributor, he from Prague, his wife from Munich, and both very elegant and artistically sensitive. Their son was about 6 or 7 if memory serves. My distributor had often expressed the sadness that he and his wife felt over the lack of a cultured environment in Tel Aviv or Israel for the matter. I asked why that did not return to Europe. The reply: "Gordon, this is the one place my son will never be called a Jew." I remember thinking how academic my education had been. Using a phrase that first rose in a talk with Black colleagues, I shall never be able to understand what I call the accumulated injury of a life of slights.

My American friend continued:

The only place a Jew really feels safe is Israel. There are 300 million Arabs surrounding 5 million Jews. There is a layer of anti semitism in Europe and the US. The muslim world is in the main anti semitic. There is no doubt that the Israeli Jew and the American Jew will do whatever is necessary to involve anyone that will come to their aid and will do so by any means possible.

It is my hope that we (the Jews) are not being naive. The reason the US is involved with Israel is that Israel is the eyes and ears where the oil is. I hope you do not believe the US would not walk away no matter what AIPAC et al would do if there was no oil in the Mideast. It suited the US's purpose to have Israel knock out the reactor in Iraq; it may serve again to have Israel go after the reactors in Iran. It may serve the US's purposes to feed Israel to the wolves. It is imperative that Israel do everything in its power to make sure that does not happen.

Gordon, Never Again!

My reply:

The US is certainly in the Middle East due to oil and its geopolitics drive us until such time as we slake our dependence on it or someone with a bigger stick shoos us away from it. [The US] was already in the Middle East before its relationship rose with Israel. Too few US nationals remember that although the US urged the partition of the East Bank of Mandate, declining Jewish wishes to partition the West Bank of the Mandate (Jordan) as well, the original military benefactor to Israel were the French [who were] instrumental in the construction of the Negev reactor and the Jericho I IRBM... It was Truman, feeling a need to annex Jewish voters in a close presidential election, that begun the political landscape that we have in the US today. One wonders what would happened without that event, or when the next time of need would have occurred. I do not for a moment think that Israel would look for another benefactor if US permissiveness waned. Mark me zany, but I think that Israel would strike a very interesting deal with China although the Chinese are so much more smooth a political operator that the fumblers in the administration, that they are doing very well painting us into the corner as the bull in the global China Shop...

I was privy to a number of Israeli state actions some of which were in our interests while many were not. I do not begrudge a nation state from acting in its own interests; I do not like it trying to pass its actions off as something good for us when it is something good for them. The US is the primary intel target for the State of Israel, dwarfing the assets directed at any other state. It is allowed access that no other state is permitted and it uses that access to our ill - significantly so.

Yes, there are tactical interests between the US and Israel. Examples being the identification of certain Palestinian assets to the Israelis... I was in some briefings by Israeli officers in which they used a metaphor that I think circulates within the IDF, as others have heard it, that Israel is like the man atop a burning building that can neither put out the fire or get down off the building. All actions are conducted within that narrow range of options.

Had I endured the history that you folks have had to do, I would be looking for every advantage that I could get and I would warily form an alliance with the [Evangelicals] that think that Jews will miraculously convert on the eve of rapture. I have Israeli friends that laugh at that as much as they are bemused at what they call the guilt of American Jews who give money in lieu of moving to Israel. Everyone seems to use everyone else to some degree. I have no issue per se with lobbying, be it for pharmaceuticals or for Israel, so long as it in the clear. In the case of AIPAC, it has long since crossed the line such that it should be under FARA.

His response was intriguing:

Frankly I don't have a problem with AIPAC falling under FARA but I am in the minority. Most feel that the omnipresent divided loyalties would be too apparent. It doesn't bother me. As to the Israelis view of the American Jews I would be there in a heartbeat if the black hats didn't wield so much power.

The "omnipresent divided loyalties" is my point and, yes, it would be on display as it is with virtually every other hyphenated American group, but that equality and openness is what I am seeking.

As to the black hats, back in the late 70s, I'd forecast that Israel would move rightward as the Sephardim came to outnumber the Ashkenazim. Combine that shift with radical religious conservatives and one gets a potent voting bloc. The Knesset's proportional representational system is tailor-made for this kind of factional pressure politics. It is neigh impossible to rule without at least having Shas underfoot or the gaggle of really rightward groups from which the greatest attack threat to Sharon was expected to rise. The Israeli security services spend a fair amount of time trying to decide who will line up on which side among the personnel among the various security assets. Rabin was, after all, not shot by a Palestinian. (See Keeping Sharon alive long enough to effect withdrawal from Gaza and the West Bank.)

I'll close this note with a reply from an Israeli friend, who divides his time between the US and Israel, responding to my inquiry as to "how Israelis - not American Jews - view evangelical Christians":

I think the average Israeli has no idea what evangelicals are about. For historical reasons (see Torquemada) Israelis have deep antipathy towards missionaries operating in Israel. In fact, the LDS [Latter-day Saints or Mormon Church] school in Jerusalem got permission from the government to set up in exchange for commitment not to engage in missionary activity in Israel.

For the average Israeli, non-missionary Christians who come to Israel with adoration for Israeli might are good gentile Zionists. Since Israelis have this inferiority/persecution complex, they crave validation from outsiders and tend to overlook the outsiders' belief systems and practices. So, Idi Amin Baba and South Africa were both kosher as well as South American despots and Pat Robertson.

Most Israelis don’t really understand that converting Jews is a big part of the evangelical theology. Most Israelis, who are quite secular, don’t know that a majority of Americans are deeply religious and hold strong beliefs about Armageddon and the role of Jews in the second coming. So perhaps they view evangelicals adoring Israeli soldiers and West Bank settlement as some type of weird but nice cult, especially as they do not proselytize in Israel.

That is the average view probably. The Israeli right wing leadership, including national-religious extreme, seemed to have struck a cynical alliance with the evangelicals. I believe that Bibi [Binyamin Netanyahu] is the master of that relationship where there’s a quid pro quo. Let them hold their crazy beliefs if they will be our power brokers in DC, a good complement to AIPAC. We'll not try to change them, nor they us, as long as both sides gain benefits.

The average Israeli was only sensitized to the evangelicals after Pat Robertson made his comment on Sharon's stroke being God’s punishment for dividing Israel. Now that is something that Israeli rabbis can spout any time with no problem (including Ovadia Yosef, the spiritual leader of Shas who is a real nut). But when an American says that, and he doesn't even wear some strange garb, that's a problem. But it was quickly smoothed out and the alliance continues and there were so many other news items that it was quickly forgotten. Ask the average Israeli, ask even enlightened Israelis who Robertson is and what evangelical beliefs about Jews are, and they will have no idea.

Next: Confluence of anti-Semitic, pro-Fascist sentiments of the "Radio Priest" and Nazi-tolerance sentiments of US business. Father Charles E. Coughlin outraged Jews and helped set the stage for today's marriage of convenience between Jews and Evangelicals.

Robertson blamed Sharon stroke on policy of "dividing God's land"
Summary: Pat Robertson suggested that Ariel Sharon's stroke occurred because he was "dividing God's land."
Meida Matters for America
Jan 5, 2006 2:54pm EST

Gordon Housworth



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Skype's encryption rendered transparent in China by Skype's Chinese partner TOM Online

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Using the P2P VoIP Skype has its risks, nicely catalogued by Simson Garfinkel in CSO, not the least of which are unproven crypto, its capacity to tunnel through and around firewalls, the Skype client's ability to relay calls between other network users without your knowledge, its ability to send worms and viruses to the unwary and that its development center is in the Baltic states, they all pale to the condition when a local source applies what is effectively a man-in-the-middle filtering and blocking function. Welcome to TOM-Skype in China.

Skype "has admitted that its partner in China [TOM-Skype] has filtered text messages," invoking the Google and Yahoo defense that Skype was "complying with local law" in its partner's action, defending "this compliance with censorship laws as the only way to do business in the country." Skype’s chief executive, Niklas Zennström, stated that, "Tom had implemented a text filter, which is what everyone else in that market is doing. Those are the regulations." Mental contortions are fun to read. Zennström "insisted that the actions of Tom-Skype had not put users at risk," this in the face of Yahoo-provided information resulting in the arrest and jailing of dissidents.

But this note is less directed at the 2 million TOM-Skype users than to business users taking their Skype usage into China. The general nature of the intercept problem is cited here from an analysis of warrantless wiretaps and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA):

Thirty years ago when FISA was being drafted it made sense to speak exclusively about the interception of a targeted communication one in which there were usually two known ends and a dedicated ("circuit-based") communication channel that could be "tapped." In modern networks, however, data and increasingly voice communications are broken up into discrete packets that travel along independent routes between point of origin and destination where these fragments are then reassembled into the original whole message ("packet-based"). Not only is there no longer a dedicated circuit, but individual packets from the same communication may take completely different paths to their destination. To intercept these kinds of communications, filters ("packet-sniffers") and search strategies are deployed at various communication nodes to scan and filter all passing traffic with the hope of finding and extracting those packets of interest and reassembling them into a coherent message. Even targeting a specific message from a known sender requires intercepting (i.e., scanning and filtering) the entire communication flow…

Advances in information technology together with the borderless nature of terrorist threats and global communications has made place-of-collection and U.S. personhood an increasingly unworkable basis for controlling the collection of intelligence. Indeed, because of packet-based communication technologies like VoIP and the use of proxy servers, it may no longer even be technically possible to determine exactly when a communication is taking place "within the United States" and no practical means exists to determine if a particular participant is a U.S. person or not until after further investigation. FISA does not account for this. Automated screening can monitor data flows to uncover terrorist connections or terrorist communication channels without human beings ever looking at anybody's emails or listening in on their phone calls. Only when the computer identifies suspicious connections or information do humans get involved… Content filtering is used to search for the occurrence of particular words or language combinations that may be indicative of terrorist communications.

Skype's voice and IM text encrypted streams makes that interception much more difficult. Without devoting sufficient decryption assets, the attacker/collector is reduced to traffic analysis.

TOM-Skype's insertion of filtering into SkypeChat IM messaging short-circuits the encryption step. And if TOM-Skype is filtering for "Falun Gong" on behalf of the government, they are scanning, if not filtering, for much more. If you know that the pipeline is in place, then conceivably any catchphrase that the Golden Firewall employs (See Fun on both sides of the Golden Shield: escape & evasion applicable to civil libertarians and terrorists alike and Finding Zhao Ziyang through the Golden Shield) can be extended to TOM-Skype. Were I the Chinese authorities, I would try to limit filtering, which will draw unwanted publicity, and monitor content for intel to use elsewhere.

Any business traffic to and from China via TOM-Skype should be using a primary encryption tool prior to inserting text into SkypeChat or an independent encryption tool, otherwise consider that you are typing cleartext for any and all to read. It would be worth a test to see if TOM-Skype allows encrypted text to pass. PGP headers and footers are, after all, a standard searchable text string.

Having already recommended Phil Zimmermann's newest encryption software, Zfone, for some project team secure comm, I would suggest it here:

The open-source [Zfone] manages cryptographic handshakes invisibly, and encrypts and decrypts voice calls as the traffic leaves and enters the computer. Operation is simple, and users don't have to agree in advance on an encryption key or type out long passcodes to make it work… Zfone is designed to work with VoIP clients that use the industry standard SIP protocol, and has been tested with clients such as X-lite, Free World Dialup and Gizmo ProjectUsing Zfone didn't add any noticeable latency or distortion to calls made with Gizmo Project. Once it's up and running, you're simply talking on the phone.

But make no mistake: to eavesdroppers, Zfone is anything but routine. The protocol is based on SRTP, a system that uses the 256-bit AES cipher and adds to that a 3,000-bit key exchange that produces the codes callers can read off to one another. It has been submitted to IETF for approval as an internet standard, and by most accounts is strong enough to defy even the most sophisticated code-breaking technologies, from a hacker's packet sniffer to the acres of computers beneath Ft. Meade.

That makes Zfone the "most secure telephone system anyone has ever used… " The Gizmo Project ostensibly uses its own encryption for Gizmo-to-Gizmo calls, though the company won't reveal what algorithms they use. But primarily, Zfone is competing with the built-in crypto that comes with Skype, which is closed-source, uses its own proprietary protocols, and employs its own encryption scheme -- which, significantly, is not available for inspection and peer-review (though some have evaluated (.pdf) it and others purportedly cracked it anyway).

If it must be secure, it must be "double encrypted" given that Skype's encryption has been rendered transparent in China.

ADDENDUM: As an issue of fairness, be certain to listen to the podcast associated with Can you hear me now? Big Brother is listening as it is now manifestly clear that the US is performing a wholesale sweeping and filtering of all traffic passing through AT&T and its peer member access points. The short article has only a fraction of the information of the podcast that is most interesting. The difference is that the US is ostensibly pursuing counterterrorist threats.

Can you hear me now? Big Brother is listening
Posted by Richard Stiennon @ 1:50 pm
Threat Chaos
April 20, 2006
Podcast interview with "Deep Packet"

Skype says texts are censored by China
By Alison Maitland in London
Financial Times
Published: April 18 2006 22:23, Last updated: April 18 2006 23:01

Finally, the government props up ailing encryption industry
Posted by Richard Stiennon @ 1:58 pm
Threat Chaos
April 17, 2006

Pretty Good Way to Foil the NSA
By Ryan Singel
Wired
02:00 AM Apr, 03, 2006

Whispering Wires and Warrantless Wiretaps: Data Mining and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance
K. A. TAIPALE
Center for Advanced Studies in Science and Technology Policy
NYU Review of Law & Security, No. 8, June 2006
ABSTRACT
DRAFT available in HTML
PDF available from abstract page

DATA MINING AND DOMESTIC SECURITY: CONNECTING THE DOTS TO MAKE SENSE OF DATA
By K. A. Taipale
The Columbia Science and Technology Law Review
Vol 3, 2003

Can 9 Million Skype Users Be Wrong?
Skype is a great way to communicate. But CSOs should know that it also brings auditing and monitoring challenges.
By Simson Garfinkel
CSO, March 2005

Gordon Housworth



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Federal pandemic influenza plan can only count on half the expected public health staff to show up for a pandemic

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[Most of the] public health workers who would serve as a backbone of locally-driven emergency response in an influenza pandemic setting [feel] they will work under significant personal risk, in a scenario they are not adequately knowledgeable about, performing a role they are not sufficiently trained for, and believing this role does not have a significant impact on the agency’s overall response.

The "perceived risk associated with the worker’s role in an influenza pandemic" is sufficiently great that without specific intervention programs tailored for these workers, nearly "half of local public health workers would be unlikely to report during an extreme crisis. Three out of four technical and support workers don’t even think they will be asked to report to work during a pandemic."

I like to say that, "Any plan conceived and approved by or under sitting politicians must, by definition, be adjudged a success or it will be rerun until it does." Having written on previous TOPOFF (Top Officials) exercises here in the US, whose tests are gerrymandered in their instructions and boundary conditions so as to insure success, I am forever credulous of the accuracy of these tests to mimic reality. Each time the real world rudely intrudes, in the likes of Hurricane Katrina, our planning and recovery process is shown to be inept. (An example is the failure to resolve unintelligible communications channels across disciplines (such as between fire and police) that was known before 11 September, 2001, but was still not redressed as of Katrina.) See:

None of the TOPOFF exercises assumed a degradation of public health workers any where near the results of a study from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Local public health workers' perceptions toward responding to an influenza pandemic.

The HHS Pandemic Influenza Plan clearly states the impact of an Avian Flu Influenza accurately enough:

When a pandemic virus strain emerges, 25% to 35% of the population could develop clinical disease, and a substantial fraction of these individuals could die. The direct and indirect health costs alone (not including disruptions in trade and other costs to business and industry) have been estimated to approach $181 billion for a moderate pandemic (similar to those in 1957 and 1968) with no interventions. Faced with such a threat, the U.S. and its international partners will need to respond quickly and forcefully to reduce the scope and magnitude of the potentially catastrophic consequences.

The HHS plan describes a "critical role for local and state public health agencies during a pandemic, including: providing regular situational updates for providers; providing guidance on infection control measures for healthcare and non-healthcare settings; conducting or facilitating testing and investigation of pandemic influenza cases; and investigating and reporting special pandemic situations."

Among those roles are, for example, key Healthcare and Emergency Response capabilities "Needed for Implementation of an effective response":

  1. Equipment and supplies maintained in the Strategic National Stockpile and state stockpiles sufficient to enhance medical surge capacity.
  2. Federal Medical Stations and healthcare assets (people, facilities, equipment, supplies, and exercised procedures) to enhance medical surge capacity.
  3. Widely available accurate rapid diagnostic methods to detect and characterize influenza viruses.
  4. Assets (people, facilities, equipment, supplies, and exercised procedures) for the timely, safe, and respectful disposition of the deceased.
  5. Institutionalization of psychosocial support services and development of workforce resiliency programs.

The term "Assets (people, facilities, equipment, supplies, and exercised procedures)" appears in other subsections of the HHS document, but no mention is made of the option that the local healthcare backbone will not show up for work - and no federal plan can persevere without the backbone of local support.

No one had apparently thought to query the local health staff, divided between professionals (all physicians, nurses and public health professionals) and technical/support staff on the following issues:

  • Probability of reporting to work
  • Possibility of being asked by their health department to respond to an emergency
  • Degree of knowledge "about the potential public health impact of pandemic influenza"
  • Confidence of safety "in their work roles"
  • Likelihood of family preparation "to function in their absence"
  • Likelihood they would get timely updates from their health department
  • Familiarity with "their role specific response requirements"
  • Ability to "address the questions of a concerned member of the public"
  • Significance of their role "in the agency’s overall response"
  • Importance of "pre-event preparation and training"
  • Importance of having "psychological support available during the event"
  • Importance of having "psychological support available after the event"

Risk perception theory (see other links below) describes a risk horizon in which "the summation of actual risk and other peripheral influences independent of the actual risk, such as perceived authority, trust, and situational control; these peripheral influences have been termed "outrage" or "dread." It should come as no surprise that actual risk is nestled within a group of contributing factors peripheral to the actual risk that "will have a considerable practical impact on how public health employees would respond in a crisis."

Employees' "sense of dread due to a lack of personal control" were caused by such variables as "uncertainty regarding working environment safety, unclear expectations of role-specific emergency response requirements, safety and well being of family members, inadequate emphasis on the critical value of each employee to the agency response efforts, and insufficient emphasis on stress management techniques."

The results were impressive:

  • 66% of public health workers "felt they would put themselves at risk of infection if they were to report to work during a pandemic"
  • Only 40% of all respondents felt it likely "they would be asked by their health department to respond to a pandemic influenza related emergency"
  • "Half of local public health workers would be unlikely to report during an extreme crisis"
  • "Three out of four technical and support workers don’t even think they will be asked to report to work during a pandemic"

These figures do not include those who cannot show up because of a primary or secondary interruption, i.e., they are prohibited due to such impacts as a gridlocking transport system.

So much for the ability of the US to carry out the HHS Pandemic Influenza Plan. Sustained, nationwide interventions with healthcare staff will be required to improve their willingness "in non-public health department settings to report to duty in disasters include workforce preparedness education, provision of appropriate personal protective equipment, crisis counseling, family preparedness and social support."

Local public health workers' perceptions toward responding to an influenza pandemic
By Ran D. Balicer, Saad B. Omer, Daniel J. Barnett and George S. Everly Jr.
BMC Public Health 2006, 6:99 doi:10.1186/1471-2458-6-99
ISSN 1471-2458
Publication date 18 April 2006
Full text PDF
Abstract

Nearly Half of Public Health Employees Unlikely to Work During Pandemic
Public Health News Center
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
April 17, 2006

HHS Pandemic Influenza Plan
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
November 2005

Applying risk perception theory to public health workforce preparedness training
By Barnett DJ, Balicer RD, Blodgett DW, Everly GS Jr, Omer SB, Parker CL, Links JM.
Johns Hopkins Center for Public Health Preparedness, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Journal of Public Health Management & Practice, Suppl:S33-7
November 2005

Explaining risk perception. An evaluation of the psychometric paradigm in risk perception research
Lennart Sjöberg, Bjørg-Elin Moen, Torbjørn Rundmo
Editor: Torbjørn Rundmo
Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Department of Psychology
ISBN 82-7892-024-9
Trondheim, September 2004

SARS Risk Perception, Knowledge, Precautions, and Information Sources, the Netherlands
Johannes Brug, Arja R. Aro, Anke Oenema, Onno de Zwart, Jan Hendrik Richardus, and George D. Bishop
Emerging Infectious Diseases

Vol. 10, No. 8, August 2004

Explaining risk perception. An evaluation of cultural theory
Sigve Oltedal, Bjørg-Elin Moen, Hroar Klempe, Torbjørn Rundmo
Editor: Torbjørn Rundmo
Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Department of Psychology
ISBN 82-7892-025-7
Trondheim, April 20, 2004

A Social Network Contagion Theory of Risk Perception
Clifford W. Scherer and Hichang Cho
Risk Analysis
doi:10.1111/1539-6924.00306
Volume 23 Issue 2, Page 261 - April 2003

Risk perception: Theories and models
Anna-Mari Aalto, Pilvikki Absetz, Yael Benyamini, Pepijn van Empelen, David French, Peter Harris, Britta Renner, Fritz Strack
European Health Psychology Society
2003

Gordon Housworth



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"No Nation Left Behind" program, Part 6, AIPAC 3

  #

Part 5

But AIPAC has withstood serious examination on previous occasions. Lilienthal's memoriam on the death of Senator J. William Fulbright, A Giant Passes, is recommended both for the efforts of the man and that part of his career that bends upon this note. Today, Fulbright is passingly remembered for his founding of the Fulbright Scholarships, whereas his opposition to intervention in Vietnam is not as was his 1963 investigation of Jewish and Zionist lobbies, many of who were operating outside the Foreign Agents Registration Act and whose cross-funding was largely unknown. It was this latter effort that cost Fulbright the post of secretary of state as President-elect Kennedy tapped the "far less controversial, and less qualified, Dean Rusk." In a recent conversation with a former aide to Senator Proxmire of Wisconsin, creator of the Golden Fleece Awards and a Fulbright contemporary, the appointment of Dean came as a great surprise, even to Hill politicians. Fulbright was the assumed candidate for SecState; Dean was unknown. (Readers should note that I take these events as a mark of Fulbright's skill as opposed to Dean's lack thereof.)

As Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Fulbright conducted hearings on the Zionist movement in 1963 "as part of an examination into activities of various representatives of foreign entities, aimed at uncovering possible abuses" of FARA. In testimony originally classified, Fulbright defined what he called "conduits" by which "tax-free United Jewish Appeal dollars [of] the Jewish Agency's American section, a registered foreign agent," which were recycled philanthropic tax-deductible contributions originally sent to Israel by US nationals now being distributed in the US "to organizations and individuals seeking to influence public opinion in favor of Israel." Documented were:

the highly complex process of passing funds among the three "Jewish Agencies." These were the Jewish Agency for Israel, Jerusalem; the Jewish Agency for Israel, Inc.; and the Jewish Agency-American Section, Inc., a registered foreign agent. Through them money reached many respected organizations molding opinion among Americans who were not aware of the original source of the funds. For example, more than 80 percent of the budget of the American Zionist Council (AZC), the coordinating body for nine major U.S. Zionist groups, was received for eight years from the Jewish Agency for Israel (unregistered)…

pertinent operations [were] the purchase and control of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) for distribution of news to Jewish publications; the establishment and maintenance of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations; the subsidization of efforts by the Synagogue Council of America to explain to Christian leaders the relationship of American Jewry to Israel; travel "study" tours in Israel by the American Christian Palestine Committee; pressuring American newspapers to support Israel and to attack anti-Zionist groups; establishment of inter-university committees on Israel and setting up chairs of Hebrew culture at universities which had Middle East studies programs...

Contributors to the UJA [United Jewish Appeal now UJC] provided the funds flowing through the American Zionist Council's pipeline not only for manipulation of congressmen and public opinion, but also to manipulate the contributors into giving more to Israel. The AZC was, the Senator pointed out, "a very thin way of insulating it and other recipients from the terms of the Foreign Agents Act."

Whereas the Jewish Agency had registered, most of those organizations and individuals who received funds from it had not. "The Department of Justice and therefore the public," said the Senator, "was unaware of the public relations activities in the interest of Israel carried on within the United States by the Agency. And the Jewish Agency supported organizations and individuals without itemization of such financial support publicly."

Here Lilienthal quotes Fulbright's Oct 1973 appearance on Face the Nation just after the commencement of the 1973 Yom Kippur War (known to Arabs as the Ramadan War):

"For many years I have felt that the situation in the Middle East was very nearly hopeless. The fundamental problem for us is that we have lost our freedom of action in the Middle East and are committed to policies that promote neither our own national interest nor the cause of peace. AIPAC [and] its allied organizations have effective working control of the electoral process. They can elect or defeat nearly any congressman or senator that they wish, with their money and coordinated organization."

In the same program, Fulbright was asked, "which would be the best way to settle the Arab-Israeli war," and "would it not be in everyone's interest for the U.S. and the Soviet Union to refrain from furnishing weapons to either side?" His response was:

"Yes, but the U.S. government alone is not capable of doing that, because the Israelis control the policy in the Congress and the Senate and unless we use the U.N. and do it collectively, we know the U.S. is not going to do that [as] Somewhere around 80 percent of the Senate of the United States is completely in support of Israel and of anything Israel wants."

Paul Findley, a former congressman who was himself the subject of a concentrated attack by AIPAC, cites an interview with Reagan's Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Thomas Moorer, in 1984 who commented:

I've never seen a President -- I don't care who he is -- stand up to them [the Israelis]. It just boggles the mind. They always get what they want. The Israelis know what is going on all the time. If the American people understood what a grip those people have got on our government, they would rise up in arms. Our citizens certainly don't have any idea what goes on."

Little appears to have changed since as Mazin Qumsiyeh cites Fulbright's 1989 comment in his book, The Price of Empire:

"The fundamental problem for us is that we have lost our freedom of action in the Middle East and are committed to policies that promote neither our own national interest nor the cause of peace. AIPAC (the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee) and its allied organizations have effective working control of the electoral process."

And in 1992, a potential AIPAC donor, Haim (Harry) Katz, telephoned AIPAC's president, David Steiner, whereupon Steiner "proceeded to make several claims, including negotiating with then-candidate Bill Clinton over who would be Secretary of State, and had already "cut a deal" with Baker for more aid to Israel." For whatever reason, Katz was taping the call without Steiner's knowledge, subsequently giving the recording to the media, causing Steiner's resignation, as Katz was ostensibly concerned that "AIPAC's influence had grown to dangerous levels." (See page images and transcriptions.)

I will close this segment with the elephant-in-the-room that appears whenever criticism is levied against AIPAC in particular and Israel in general. First, from Michael Massing at The Nation:

Jewish organizations are quick to detect bias in the coverage of the Middle East, and quick to complain about it. That's especially true of late. As the Forward observed in late April, "rooting out perceived anti-Israel bias in the media has become for many American Jews the most direct and emotional outlet for connecting with the conflict 6,000 miles away." Recently, an estimated 1,000 subscribers to the Los Angeles Times suspended home delivery for a day to protest what they considered the paper's pro-Palestinian coverage. The Chicago Tribune, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Miami Herald have all been hit by similar protests, and NPR has received thousands of e-mails complaining about its reports from the Middle East.

And from Andrew Hurley:

The greatest triumph of "The Israeli Lobby" [has] been to brand any criticism of Israel, no matter how informed or well-documented, "anti-Semitic," and get away with it. A mere discussion of the problem by non-Jewish sources has become "suspect," not just to the clueless but to anyone concerned with being duped by bigots or being mistaken for one… There is a "crucial distinction between the Israel lobby and the typical lobby… No such freedom [of disagreement] exists in America so far as opposition to Israeli policy or the Israeli Lobby is concerned. It is simply ‘taboo.’ To do so automatically exposes one to being branded ‘anti-Semitic,’ a ‘Fascist,’ a ‘Nazi,’ or part of the lunatic fringe…Since there is absolutely no defense against the charge of ‘anti-Semitism,’ most prudent people have long since preferred silence on sensitive issues to the risk of exposing themselves to the accusation of ‘anti-Semitism,’ with its inevitable ‘Hitler’ and ‘Holocaust’ associations."

Reactions can be indirect but still energetic. Grace Halsell, a powerhouse of a woman and a journalist as well as a speech writer for Lyndon Johnson, was free to document the oppression of Blacks, American Indians, Mexicans and Indigents, but when she chose to write about the plight of Muslims in "Journey to Jerusalem" in 1980, her manuscript was taken "to the Israeli Embassy, to let them read it for mistakes." When asked if there were mistakes, the reply was, "Not mistakes as such. But it shouldn’t be published. It’s anti-Israel."

Speaking to the threat label of "anti-Semitism," I've had the honor of Passover in Jerusalem, presided over by a family patriarch that had interrogated Herman Goering as a Brownshirt (Sturmarbeiteilung) and who gave me a guided tour of the Old City that I still describe as seeing with the eyes of ages. I have friends, children of Holocaust survivors, who tell me that they can deny their parents nothing as who could reproach those who have suffered so. When you hear the emotion in their voices, it puts - to me at least - a more human face on Norman Finkelstein's contention that "invoking The Holocaust [is] a ploy to delegitimize all criticism of Jews." I've seen the Holocaust used that way just as I've seen it used to teach and to urge people to aspire to something greater. When one looks at Darfur, for example, one wonders if we have learned anything.

Part 7

Mighty Morphin' Power Brokers
By Mazin B. Qumsiyeh
Qumsiyeh: A Human Rights Web
Unpublished 8/10/2003, updated 9/4/04

American Muslim Community under Siege
Testimony of Nihad Awad Before the Senate Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Homeland Security "Terrorism: Two Years After 9/11, Connecting the Dots"
September 10, 2003

The Israel Lobby
by MICHAEL MASSING
The Nation
Comment, posted May 23, 2002 [from the June 10, 2002 issue]

A Look at The 'Powerful Jewish Lobby'
By Mark Weber
Institute for Historical Review
6/02

Great Obits: GRACE HALSELL
Author, Journalist, Texas Native
BY CRYSTAL YEDNAK and JIM JONES
THE FORT WORTH STAR TELEGRAM
August 17, 2000

One Nation Under Israel
By Andrew Hurley, Truth Press, 1999
Reviewed by Richard H. Curtiss
Devember 1999
Also
here

What Christians Don’t Know About Israel
By Grace Halsell
Washington Report on Middle East Affairs
Special Report
May/June 1998, Pages 112, 126

James Zogby, Washington Watch
Arab American Institute

Is AIPAC in Trouble? Part I: Keys to AIPAC's Success: Votes and Money
August 9, 1993
Is AIPAC in Trouble? Part II: Two More Keys to AIPAC's Success: Power and Strategy
August 16, 1993
Is AIPAC in Trouble? Part III: Crises Hit the pro-Israel Lobby
August 23, 1993
Is AIPAC in Trouble? Part IV: The Problems Within the Lobby and the Jewish Community
August 30, 1993

In Memoriam
J. William Fulbright: A Giant Passes
By Alfred M. Lilienthal
Washington Report on Middle East Affairs
April/May 1995, Pages 50, 92-93

HEAD OF AIPAC BOASTED ABOUT HIS CONTROL OF POLITICIANS IN 1992
What Really Happened
TRANSCRIPT OF 1992 PHONE CALL BETWEEN AIPAC PRESIDENT DAVID STEINER AND HARRY KATZ
What Really Happened
[Page images]
The Complete Unexpurgated AIPAC Tape
Special Report
Washington Report on Middle East Affairs
[Transcription]
December/January 1992/93, Page 13-16

They Dare to Speak Out: People and Institutions Confront Israel's Lobby
by Paul Findley
Lawrence Hill Books
ISBN: 155652482X
1985, 2003

Pressure on Campus
INTEREST GROUPS SUCCESSFULLY STIFLING ACADEMIC DISCOURSE
by Paul Findley
Excerpted from They Dare to Speak Out

Gordon Housworth



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"No Nation Left Behind" program, Part 5, AIPAC 2

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Part 4

Reading AIPAC's litany of denials that it had anything to do with the coincident parade of electoral defeats of candidates that it disliked, reminds me of the protestations of one of the masters of serial insurance fraud, Rex DeGeorge, that he was innocent of a series of sunken yachts, insurance disability claims, burglary claims, and lost luggage. No matter what you think of AIPAC, you'll delight in the story of Rex DeGeorge who was finally brought to justice by a bright lawyer using the marine law principle known as "utmost good faith," i.e., "by not disclosing his prior losses when he applied for insurance [which if the insurer had] known about DeGeorge's losses [it] would not have insured the yacht."

The memorable line that I think applies equally to AIPAC is from the presiding federal district judge, J. Spencer Letts:

Noting [the vessel] Principe's tangled ownership, Letts told DeGeorge's lawyers: "You're asking me to put together unlikely plus unlikely plus unlikely plus unlikely plus unlikely plus unlikely plus unlikely, and then say the net result of all those unlikelys is likely."

Likely to be unlikely with AIPAC as well. AIPAC, like DeGeorge, would have to be another Joe Btfsplk, Al Capp's greatest jinx, for all those losses to have spontaneously happened. (Not to leave readers hanging, the resolution of DeGeorge's case is here.)

While the focus of this note is AIPAC, it is by no means the only pro-Israel organization to escape scrutiny. There is, for example:

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, though little known to the general public, has tremendous influence in Washington, especially with the executive branch. Based in New York, the conference is supposed to give voice to the fifty-two Jewish organizations that sit on its board, but in reality it tends to reflect the views of its executive vice chairman, Malcolm Hoenlein. Hoenlein has long had close ties to Israel's Likud Party… A skilled and articulate operative, Hoenlein uses his access to the State Department, Pentagon and National Security Council to push for a strong Israel. He's so effective at it that the Jewish newspaper the Forward, in its annual list of the fifty most important American Jews, has ranked Hoenlein first.

AIPAC and related Pro-Israeli proponents literally dwarf pro-Arab lobbyists in terms of contributions and political access.

Back to the present, it does appear that "the damage caused by the Franklin affair [and the indictment of two senior AIPAC officials under the Espionage Act] to the lobby itself is apparently reparable," but I agree with the assertion that the majority of US Jews - those "who are not active in the lobby but desire Israel's welfare" - will at least be forced "to cope with charges of "dual loyalty" and with the need to prove that they are no less patriotic than any other American." Given how many times that random queries have failed my Pollard Test, there is something to prove.

For its part, AIPAC has cut its employees loose and cooperate "after it became evident that the FBI had tape-recordings showing that Franklin explicitly said that the material was secret. AIPAC's assessment was that it would be difficult for the organization to continue working on Capitol Hill, and with the administration, while two of its senior officials are facing such charges":

AIPAC leaders have taken a series of steps to cut themselves off from the two former officials suspected in the case. Sources close to the case say the prosecution posed four conditions to AIPAC, which would guarantee that it would not be involved in the indictments: a change of working methods to ensure that such incidents don't happen again; the firing of the two officials and public disassociation from them; no offers of high severance or anything else to make it appear the two quit of their own volition; and no financing of their legal defense. AIPAC has abided by the first three conditions - and the severance pay offered the two was considered very low, considering the many years they worked for the lobby. But it is said to be helping with their legal fees, indirectly, through its own law firm.

One wonders if, once in court, the spurned staffers "will try to prove that they only did what was routine and conventional work for their organization."

No less a stalwart of the Jewish community than the Forward, the "voice of the Jewish immigrant," has mooted that "the goal of the probe is to compel [AIPAC] to register as a "foreign agent" representing the government of another country." Already registered as a lobbying group under the Lobbying Disclosure Act:

registering as a foreign agent would require Aipac to provide significantly more detailed information about its aims and activities to the government — thereby robbing the group of a key weapon: the ability to operate behind the scenes. Such a change would severely weaken the organization’s influence and fuel charges of dual loyalties against Jewish groups...

the shift would undermine Aipac’s standing as the chief grass-roots organization of American Jews who advocate for a strong American-Israel relationship into an entity that represents Israel in America. It also would play into the hands of Aipac’s foes, who for years have charged that the organization’s chief loyalty was to Israel rather than to the United States.

Even if an attempt to force Aipac to register as a foreign agent is unsuccessful, Jewish activists said, a public fight over the issue would damage the pro-Israel lobby and the wider Jewish community. "This is a real threat. If Aipac eventually has to become a foreign agent, that would mean the end of Aipac as we know it. But even if not, it will be ugly…"

Jewish activists say that even if the likelihood is low that a legal attempt to compel Aipac to register as a foreign agent will be successful, public focus on the issue could be damaging. "Any open debate of this issue could be damaging… Questions of loyalty will resurface, and this time such questions will have to do with the chief pro-Israel lobby in America."

While over 20,000 lobbyists are registered with Congress, in 2005 there were 455 actively registered with DoJ as foreign agents. "Although [FARA] enforcement [has] always been spotty, it is used by the government to closely monitor what foreign governments are doing in Washington. It does get the camel’s nose under the tent." Forward notes the "two chief tests for defining an organization or a publicist as an "agent of a foreign principal," are finances and control. The financial issue is dismissed out of hand as it "clearly does not apply to Aipac, which does not receive money from Israel." The control test deals with the "nature of the relationship between the American advocacy organization and the foreign government in question":

Legally, it would be difficult for the [US] to prove that Aipac must register as a foreign agent, experts say. "Lots of ethnic organizations throughout America are representing Americans who support foreign countries or political parties in foreign countries. None of those have in the past been considered foreign agents or required to register as such," said Tom Susman, a Washington lawyer who chairs the Ethics Committee of the American League of Lobbyists. Aipac, he said, "doesn’t advocate on behalf of the government of Israel, but the nation of Israel." Also, [Susman] pointed out, the law does allow for a certain degree of coordination with a foreign government. Therefore, "a substantial independence [of the lobbying group] is all that’s needed. Not total independence."

There certainly are burdens to FARA registration that an organization would like to avoid if it could:

Another part of foreign agents’ challenge comes from perceptions that are triggered because they have to register with the Department of Justice’s criminal division. "There is almost a negative connotation, like you are pulling something and using undue influence in some way," said a lawyer who advises several foreign clients on legal and business matters.

For those not seasoned in the process, such as PR companies hired to work on advertising campaigns, registering under FARA comes with a stigma. "You feel like, 'Oh my God, we are not criminals,'" said a PR specialist who, after the Sept. 11 attacks, worked on an ad campaign for a strategic Middle Eastern ally… "You lose your reputation once and that’s it. You represent a rogue state and, even if you follow the law, it does have an impact on your reputation."… One lobbyist working for a friendly Western government described the FARA process as "a nightmare and was reluctant to go through the rigorous accounting. Because the law’s reporting requirements are very strict — every means of communications, every meeting has to be detailed — some lobbyists actively seek exemptions or loopholes allowing them to register under the Lobbying Disclosure Act, which asks for less broad disclosure.

A FARA Q&A and a FARA Index, "an unofficial guide designed by FARA Unit personnel to assist a browser in finding parts of the statute" are recommended for those who wish to dig deeper.

Senator William Fulbright (see below, part 6) and former senior CIA official Victor Marchetti were unsuccessful in their efforts to bring AIPAC under FARA and the assent remains steep, but one should not give up hope. A 2004 poll by Zogby International in the wake of an FBI investigation of AIPAC staffers for "allegedly receiving classified information from a Pentagon official [Larry Franklin] and using this information on behalf of the government of Israel," asked if AIPAC should register as the agent of a foreign government and lose its tax-exempt status. Answering in the affirmative:

  • Strongly agree 44%
  • Somewhat agree 17%
  • Somewhat disagree 6%
  • Strongly disagree 6%
  • Not sure 27%

"By a five-to-one margin, people are much more likely to agree than disagree that AIPAC should be asked to register as an agent of a foreign government and lose its tax-exempt status. Three in five (61%) agree, including 44% who strongly agree. One in eight (12%) disagrees, and more than one in four (27%) are not sure."

Part 6

United States Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA)
FARA Q&A
FARA Index
unofficial guide to assist a browser in finding parts of the statute, not part of the 22 U.S.C. § 611

Foreign-agent lobbyists amid uproars, duck for cover
By Elana Schor and Roxana Tiron
The Hill
March 29, 2006

U.S. to indict two senior AIPAC officials under Espionage Act
By Nathan Guttman, Haaretz Correspondent
Haaretz
Last update - 23:24 30/05/2005
Cache

Leaders Fear Probe Will Force Pro-Israel Lobby To File as ‘Foreign Agent' Could Fuel Dual Loyalty Talk
By Ori Nir
Forward
December 31, 2004

Poll: Should AIPAC Register as the Agent of a Foreign Government?
Council for the National Interest
September, 2004

The Israel Lobby
by MICHAEL MASSING
The Nation
comment | posted May 23, 2002 [from the June 10, 2002 issue]

Pro-Israel and Pro-Arab Interests: The Money
The Center for Responsive Politics
Updated 4/24/2002

Propaganda and Disinformation: How the CIA Manufactures History
Victor Marchetti
The Journal of Historical Review, vol. 9, no. 3, pp. 305-320, 2001

Gordon Housworth



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"No Nation Left Behind" program, Part 4, AIPAC 1

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Part 3

Parts 4,5 and 6 comprise an AIPAC trilogy

American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) describes itself as "America's Pro-Israel Lobby," priding itself on the NYT's assertion that it is "The most important organization affecting America's relationship with Israel." AIPAC is courted by all comers; Democrats such as Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Bill Clinton, Al Gore and Joseph Lieberman; Republicans such as Bush43, Condoleezza Rice, John McCain, Andrew Card and Newt Gingrich; and Israelis such as Ariel Sharon, Benjamin Netanyahu, Shimon Peres, Ehud Barak and Yitzhak Rabin.

It is useful to put AIPAC in context of lobbyist activity. Fortune has a good series on lobbying and lobbyists that I recommend. I quote from one here but the other three are cited below:

The Power 25 is a highly eclectic--almost curious--collection. From the 33-million-member [AARP], which polled No. 1 (to no one's surprise), to the ever controversial [Teamsters] (No. 25), and from the calculatedly quiet American Israel Public Affairs Committee (a remarkable No. 2) to the newly emergent National Restaurant Association (No. 24), the Washington 25 is as diverse as the nation itself. But it is more than that. It is a crystalline reminder that Alexis de Tocqueville was right more than 150 years ago when he observed that Americans were inveterate joiners who liked to cluster themselves into quasi-political volunteer groups.

Our survey rebuts one of the oldest axioms of lobbying: that campaign contributions buy power in Washington. While donations are still crucial (and are often abused, as the recent revelations about "soft money" excesses in the last presidential election show), they aren't the only keys to the kingdom. True, three of the top ten organizations owe their high rankings to their substantial campaign contributions [AIPAC included] But these days, interest organizations are valued more for the votes they can deliver. Most of the Power 25 have large numbers of geographically dispersed and politically active members who focus their energies on a narrow range of issues. In other words, they know their convictions and vote them. In this era of low voter turnout, that kind of commitment can mean the difference between victory and defeat in close elections, which translates into real heft on the legislative front. Few things are more important to a Congressman than getting reelected.

Fully half of the top ten groups in the FORTUNE survey were propelled there on the strength of their long-established grassroots networks… The affluence of an organization's members doesn't guarantee influence. Sometimes it has the opposite effect… In contrast, the groups with huge memberships that also have an intense self-interest in government payouts are disproportionately represented in the Power 25.

Populism is not the same as liberalism. The survey shows how narrowly the political spectrum is concentrated at the moderate center and the right… Why? Maybe it's because conservative groups often are better funded or that their members are more intensely committed to their cause. Or maybe the reason is that Republicans control Congress.

In response to Fortune, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency stated that contrary to Fortune, "AIPAC does not contribute money to political candidates, but it did note, "However, in response to a lawsuit, the Federal Election Commission found in 1992 that AIPAC spent money in an effort to influence congressional elections. AIPAC maintains that the specific expenditures were permissible under campaign finance laws."

AIPAC responded with, "If we are as successful as portrayed, it's due to the profound interest Americans have in ensuring the strong bonds between the U.S. and Israel, and their willingness to roll up their sleeves to do something about it," a comment that I find disingenuous. Speaking of the Iran Missile Proliferation Sanctions Act of 1997, AIPAC's Arizona chair stated, "Every AIPAC member called people they had contact with in both the House and Senate and got an incredible amount of people to sign on."

AIPAC has continued despite political changes in both Israel and the US:

[AIPAC] adapts with chameleon-like ease to both "extremist" and "moderate" Israeli governments. AIPAC makes pro forma changes in its executive directors, while leaving in place the lobbyists who can manipulate comfortable majorities in both Democratic and Republican Congresses, and who can either formulate the Middle East policies to be followed by U.S. presidents, or inhibit them from carrying out Mideast policies of their own…

WaPo's Dana Milbank asks, "How much clout does AIPAC have?" The answer is a lot.

The annual meeting of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee has long produced a massive show of bipartisan pandering, as lawmakers praise the well-financed and well-connected group. But [2005] has been a rough year for AIPAC -- it has dismissed its policy director and another employee while the FBI examines whether they passed classified U.S. information to Israel -- and the organization is eager to show how big it is...

[The Franklin scandal] isn't keeping the powerful from lining up to woo AIPAC. The morning brought Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the evening brought congressional leaders, and at a luncheon "debate" in between, Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) and informal administration foreign policy adviser Richard N. Perle tried to one-up each other in pro-Israel views.

Perle drew cheers for denouncing Palestinian anti-Semitism and the French. Harman mentioned that an aide once worked for AIPAC, called her audience "very sophisticated" and celebrated Yasser Arafat's death as "a blessing." Debating a hard-liner in front of a pro-administration crowd, Harman heaped praise on President Bush, calling the Iraqi elections "sensationally impressive" and moving to "applaud" or "commend" Perle and the administration a dozen times. "Richard is right, and so is President Bush," she said at one point.

But after half an hour of this, Harman could not keep up. Perle provoked cheers from the crowd when he favored a military raid on Iran, saying that "if Iran is on the verge of a nuclear weapon, I think we will have no choice but to take decisive action." When Harman said the "best short-term option" is the U.N. Security Council, the crowd reacted with boos.

AIPAC is a demanding crowd, and even Rice, introduced as a "very special friend," did not satisfy universally. The participants applauded heartily her reminder that Bush did not meet with Arafat, but when she said Arafat's successor, Mahmoud Abbas, "is committed to both freedom and security," and when she mentioned more U.S. funds for Palestinians, the room was quiet. Likewise, Rice's call for Arab states to "establish normal relations with Israel" earned an extended ovation; her reminder that Israel must not "jeopardize the true viability of the Palestinian state" did not.

Haaretz's Nathan Guttman drove home the adjustments AIPAC is making publicly:

[AIPAC convention tables] were set with two flags apiece - the Stars and Stripes alongside the AIPAC flag. Veteran conference-goers said they had never seen the two flags arranged this way before, but this year AIPAC has a clear message - complete support of the United States and an unequivocal display of patriotism. In his opening speech, AIPAC executive-director Howard Kohr took several minutes to sing the praises of the U.S. president and the American nation…

The patriotic spirit was alive in every corridor of the Washington congress center. AIPAC is making a special effort to communicate its complete loyalty to the U.S., something that was taken for granted in the past… AIPAC was touting its American character with symbols and declarations that left no room for doubt. And Israel? It was being presented at the conference, not as a country that is in need of U.S. assistance, but as a country that is helping its great friend. "Israel. An American Value" read the large posters adorning the conference hall, driving the point home.

Haaretz's PM Sharon to tell AIPAC: Gaza pullout will proceed on time add further detail while Guttman speaks of the "dizzying success" of the conference:

The message sent by the mammoth event was clear: The lobby is not only alive and well, but it justly holds the title of the second most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill, even after half a year of an FBI investigation that is still going on. At the end of the conference... participants made their traditional pilgrimage to Capitol Hill to meet with their representatives in Congress and pass on the key messages they received at the conference: Support the disengagement plan and end Iran's nuclear program.

AIPAC sees the conference's success as proof that the lobby is emerging from the crisis engendered by the Larry Franklin affair. After a wave of negative media reports about AIPAC, it is once again back on its feet; and having gotten rid of the senior officials who were involved in the affair, it is stressing that the lobby itself was never the target of any investigation.

But the Franklin affair has nevertheless left its mark - not only on conversations in the corridors, but also on the tone and the emphasis that AIPAC tried to broadcast over the past week. The general message that emanated from the conference was one of American patriotism and absolute loyalty to the United States. This super-patriotic message was evident in [the] the unexplained omission of "Hatikva," which in past years has always been sung right after the American anthem.

2005 was no aberration, by the way, as in 2004, Bush43 "stood before the annual conference [and] spoke effusively to its members":

"AIPAC is doing important work," Bush said. "In Washington and beyond, AIPAC is calling attention to the great security challenges of our time. "You've always understood and warned against the evil ambition of terrorism and their networks," the president continued. "In a dangerous new century, your work is more vital than ever."...

The federal investigation itself has produced the most recent demonstration of AIPAC's power and standing, in the outpouring of support for the organization from U.S. officials that began hours after news of the federal inquiry broke.

"I know AIPAC; I know the AIPAC leadership. It is an outstanding organization," said Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.). Senate Minority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.) declared, "America is better and stronger for" AIPAC.

Two days after the first news reports, Republican politicians -- normally wary of controversy -- turned out in force at an AIPAC-sponsored event outside the GOP convention in New York. By AIPAC's count, the attendees included more than 60 House members, eight senators, five governors, two Bush Cabinet members and Bush campaign manager Ken Mehlman.

Through more than 2,000 meetings with members of Congress, AIPAC activists help pass more than 100 pro-Israel legislative initiatives a year. On its Web site, AIPAC lists priorities including legislation to curb Iran's nuclear program; procuring nearly $3 billion in aid for Israel; and funding U.S.-Israeli efforts to build a defense against unconventional weapons.

AIPAC does not have a political action committee and does not endorse candidates. But it is widely viewed by friends and foes as wielding significant political power.

The 2003 conference on the eve of a new Administration "road map" showed equal resolve and authority as AIPAC comments made evident. Again from Haaretz' David Landau:

prominent Jewish leaders told Haaretz [that] they will not mute their criticism of the "road map" that is being drawn up in Washington. Abe Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, doesn't like the "timing" of the map or the fact that President George Bush has created a connection between the war in Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice president of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, promises that if the Israeli government expresses reservations about the road map, it will have the support of the Jewish community, and "we will not hesitate to make our voice heard."

Before their annual conference concludes, the 3,000 AIPAC activists will undoubtedly be asked, upon their return home, to encourage their friends and relatives to write to their representatives in Congress and make known their concern about the road map and about the linkage the administration is creating between the war in Iraq and peace here. Senators and members of the House of Representatives will duly receive stacks of letters and telegrams, along with faxes and e-mails, from which they will conclude that the American Jewish community, like the Israeli Jewish community, has fears and anxieties about the road map that the administration officials are preparing.

That's how it works. AIPAC has plenty of influence and clout, and it tilts to the right. The majority of the other Jewish organizations are also on the right when it comes to the conflict.

So sweeping is the success of the Israeli right and its allies among the Jews (and Christians) in the United States that an unchallenged political axiom has emerged, to the effect that if the president decides to push ahead with the road map, he will generate hostility among millions of voters. This is presented as an unassailable fact in the political discourse and in newspaper commentaries. The only point that remains unclear is whether Bush will accede to the urgings of British Prime Minister Tony Blair and of his own State Department and adopt the map despite the political risk that step entails.

Part 5

Think before you sing 'Hatikva'
By Nathan Guttman
Haaretz
Last update - 11:40 27/05/2005
Cache

AIPAC's Big, Bigger, Biggest Moment
By Dana Milbank
Washington Post
May 24, 2005; A13

PM Sharon to tell AIPAC: Gaza pullout will proceed on time
By Aluf Benn and Nathan Guttman, Haaretz Correspondents, and Haaretz Service
Haaretz
Last update - 08:12 24/05/2005

Pro-Israel Lobby Has Strong Voice
AIPAC Is Embroiled in Investigation of Pentagon Leaks
By Thomas B. Edsall and Molly Moore
Washington Post
September 5, 2004

The battle for Washington
By David Landau
Haaretz
Last update - 02:37 28/03/2003

One Nation Under Israel
By Andrew Hurley, Truth Press, 1999
Reviewed by Richard H. Curtiss
December 1999
Also
here

Fat & Happy in D.C. Republicans are busting out all over, not just in Congress and the White House but also on FORTUNE's latest list of the capital's most powerful lobbyists.
By Jeffrey H. Birnbaum Reporter Associate Russell Newell
Fortune
May 28, 2001

Follow the Money Hard money. Soft money. Lobbying money. Which buys the most influence in Washington? FORTUNE's Power 25 survey attempts an answer and ranks the top lobbying groups.
By Jeffrey H. Birnbaum Reporter, Associate Natasha Graves
Fortune
December 6, 1999

The Influence Merchants Lobbyists are a permanent establishment in Washington, and FORTUNE's Power 25 ranking is its undisputed "A" list. New to this year's survey: the best of the hired guns.
By Jeffrey H. Birnbaum Reporter Associates Tyler Maroney, Dustin Smith
Fortune
December 7, 1998

WASHINGTON'S POWER 25 WHICH PRESSURE GROUPS ARE BEST AT MANIPULATING THE LAWS WE LIVE BY? A GROUNDBREAKING FORTUNE SURVEY REVEALS WHO BELONGS TO LOBBYING'S ELITE AND WHY THEY WIELD SO MUCH CLOUT.
By JEFFREY H. BIRNBAUM
Fortune
December 8, 1997

AIPAC listed 2nd most powerful group on Fortune list
DANIEL KURTZMAN
Jewish Telegraphic Agency
1997

LobbyWatch
Center for Public Integrity

Political Advocacy Groups
A Directory of United States Lobbyists
Jewish Political Advocacy Groups
International Affairs Political Advocacy Groups

Links for American Politics and Government

Gordon Housworth



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A note on sources to the forthcoming "No Nation Left Behind" program, Part 4

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I like to say that "Truth, beauty and contact lenses are all in the eye of the beholder." Given the contentious nature of the subject, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and its interaction with the Christian Right and subsequent effects on US foreign policy, much effort has been spent in source selection which, of course, will mean nothing to the fringes on either side. This note is directed at the middle where discourse remains possible. There is so much bias and venom masquerading as fact. The pro-Israeli HonestReporting is often not, but it is only modestly apologetic in comparison to the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), the velocity of whose text barely holds onto a claim of legitimacy in presenting an Israeli issue. In opposition, there is the Institute for Historical Review (IHR) and FrontPage which I place in orbit between HR and CAMERA. Moving right, Jew Watch claims it is "NOT a hate site" but while it is largely devoid of doggerel, its texts push too great a slant. Farther to the right are those who decry the Holohuggers and Holocaustomaniacs. There is much worse. That said, a bad or dubious site can post a solid item. Attention is required as one good paragraph does not guarantee that another will follow it. For this note I have tried to stay in the center of the flock.

I habitually try to run articles back to original source, or close as possible, along the way looking for what gets replicated where or in some cases distorted or oddly excerpted in some manner (which is a good indicator of the site's interests or bias). A good example was the furor made over Thomas Stauffer's estimation of the cost of conflict of US policy in the Middle East which was disputed by pro-Israeli sources. Stauffer made his initial comments under US Army War College auspices at a conference at the University of Maine but that presentation seemed to be obscure, ultimately yielding only one HTML copy on the web, with a PDF mirror at an appalling anti-Semitic site. That led to more developed items in Middle East Policy Council (MEPC) and the Middle East Economic Survey (MEES). When HonestReporting criticized Stauffer, I was on solid ground to interpret and dismiss.

A very dear Jewish friend, arguably one of the kindest people on the planet, had sent me that very 2002 HonestReporting item in rebuttal to a private list note on Stauffer, noting that, "Yes, HonestReporting is biased towards Israel but still represents very good data… I know which side of the table I support, but I have to admit I have not verified the facts." My reply at the time (2002) was:

While I cannot speak to HonestReporting, I think that the general press and government response is far more biased [in favor of Israel] than you might be comfortable in addressing -- and I certainly do not infer any infernal cabal. [AIPAC] has been, and remains, a supremely effective organization that has affected Congress and other public bodies far in relation to its size. Interestingly VOA is more balanced in its reporting as, even though it is owned by State, it has fiercely protected its independence lest it be written off by its overseas listeners as a US agitprop organ.

One's filters will obscure potentially averse data when one's chair is firmly fixed at the table. I hope that my chair, if I have one, has no fixed point save for protecting US national interests.

One must also be extremely wary of Greeks bearing gifts in the form of foreign language translations. Speaking neither Hebrew or Arabic, like many others, I am at the mercy of those who, as I like to say, translate, transliterate or transmogrify the original according to their skill or biases. A recent example is Rima Barakat's comparison of translations by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) which then get quoted as gospel by affiliated groups. This is not a new issue as the Guardian took up the issue of MEMRI's veracity in 2002, allowing MEMRI to rebut. Your mileage may vary, but over the years my original opinion of MEMRI has shifted much closer to that of the Guardian.

And then there are the 'battle of the quotes.' Take Sharon's purported exchange with Peres reported on Kol Yisrael (Israel radio) in Hebrew, reported by the Independent Palestinian Information Network A subsidiary of PalVision Ltd., in which an exasperated Sharon tells a concerned Peres in Cabinet session that "every time we do something you tell me Americans will do this and will do that. I want to tell you something very clear, don't worry about American pressure on Israel, we, the Jewish people control America, and the Americans know it." CAMERA presents an aggressive but unsatisfactory rebuttal. What is not on offer are pertinent cabinet transcripts.

I lean to the opinion that a refusal by Israel to produce transcripts for the cabinet session indicates something to hide and therefore the translation has currency. Had it not occurred, an official transcript would likely be presented to clear the matter. We have, I believe, a similar matter closer to home; Bush43 addressed the Council for National Policy (CNP) (also here), a group that Kevin Phillips calls "the most powerful group you've never heard of."

CNP is media-averse in the extreme down to its membership list, its selection of guests and its practices, but there is an extremely strong vein of religious and political conservatism. "Mr. Bush addressed the group in fall 1999 to solicit support for his campaign, stirring a dispute when news of his speech leaked and Democrats demanded he release a tape recording. He did not." And has not as of this writing. My suspicions are always elevated in such cases.

Next: AIPAC 1

Gordon Housworth



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"Committed collector" blog collective delivers high context reporting on the French youth labor unrest

  #

While many sources are covering the nationwide protest by students, youths and labor against the French government's new youth labor law, the best multimedia reporting on the topic that I've seen is libcom.org/blog - unrest in france from libcom (short for libertarian communists) a "small collective… based in and around London" UK.

Not being familiar with libcom, one could quickly determine that the unrest in france blog was created on the fly to report the contrat première embauche (CPE) or "first employment contract" proposed by Prime Minister Villepin for younger French workers:

libcom.org/blog, has been set up to offer the most comprehensive English-language coverage of the wave of students’ and young people’s protests which has swept France this week.

A small group of us, half of whom have lived in France at one time or another, were talking about the situation on libcom.org/forums a few days ago. We were sharing translations from various sources with each other because there was very little English language coverage available. We then figured that we should really be sharing what we were learning with others and thought that a weblog would be the best format for to deliver such content. The blog allows all of us the chance to post new information as and when we get it, without delay.

Right now we’re covering events nearly 24 hours a day. Members of our team are based in London, Paris, Marseille and Edinburgh, with our Paris correspondents providing personal accounts of things that we otherwise couldn’t pick up on - the mood on the streets and the feeling of how momentum is moving. We are also in touch with young people and students - both for and against the strikes - in France who are sending us reports, including one of the initiators of the occupation of the historic Sorbonne.

This fits my definition of the committed collector; from Value from the fringe: "committed" collectors and investigators:

we treasure good "time sequences" of properly described events as a means of pattern detection, evidence of trend growth or attenuation, changes in underlying assumptions, and the emergence of new players or vulnerabilities. As it usually falls to us to build these time sequences, I am pleased when we find them in the wild.

As a good sequence requires significant research to make it viable, or for that matter any effort or cause not tracked by the shifting "lens of the news" of the major trade and popular press, I have learned to look to the "committed," i.e., those who have a passion to search out and document what would be obscure or tedious work for the rest of us. Oxfam, ACLU, SPLC, FAS, and various UN relief agencies are good examples of what I call "committed" investigators.

I've previously noted that "bloggers are among the most flexible and creative users of an emerging class of products that I call "meta-media" tools"" that are not burdened with the legacy drag of "high street journalists, their masthead papers." So much the better when the blogger assembles a usable time sequence. A balanced "interpretation on the events in a sequence compiled by a committed group" is a bonus but not necessary. Libcom does a useful job of both. From Blog speed, visibility, deception, and counterdeception:

Traditional journalists have rightly commented that some bloggers rush materials on-line without sufficient fact checking and that due process should reign, which means the journalists' due process speed and not the medium's speed. Rubbish says I, these people might as well be Xerxes flogging the sea. Highstreet press has acknowledged the trend by permitting/nudging their serving journalists to put their own blogs…

The scouring, refining, and gathering of competent blogs is time-consuming, but it has become an essential component of our I&W (Indicators & Warning) process. Blogs are often mixes of personal and 'core subject' material that it is maddening at times, but in terms of Asia, Africa, and the Persian littoral, they yield a form of battlefield surveillance outside the control of governments that constrict the mainstream press - and offer an early warning ability that we used on occasion.

English Libertarian communists differentiate themselves from State communists and are refreshingly realistic:

we recognise the limitations of applying [our] ideas and organisational forms to contemporary British society. We emphasise understanding and transforming the social relationships we experience in our everyday lives, whilst still learning from the mistakes and successes of previous working class movements and ideas.

In comparison to the Cold War Communists of the USSR, libcom's forms of class struggle and its embracing of "most, if not all, non-state forms of communism and socialism" made it a rather benign reporter, one capable of balanced reporting on the topic. Unrest in france offers the kind of contextual feeling of French unrest that I get from on-the-ground reporting in Iraq from, say, Riverbend's Baghdad Burning from an Iraqi viewpoint or many of Blackfive's Milblog recommendations, or The South-East Asia Earthquake and Tsunami Blog (SEA-EAT) for coverage of a transnational natural disaster.

In addition to its individual reporting of high street sources and personal views of the rising, Unrest offers a running photojournalism piece called The story so far - a look at the growing revolt against CPE. Unrest does a good job in its definitions as well. Compare its definition of the First Employment Contract to that presented by Wikipedia. Unrest also provides a welcome Glossary "to help explain certain words which cannot be translate perfectly translated or relate to background information."

Unrest in france is a recommended read and an example of good collective blogging that blurs the line between journalist and amateur.

Violent Youths Threaten to Hijack Demonstrations in Paris
By ELAINE SCIOLINO
New York Times
March 30, 2006

French Protests Over Youth Labor Law Spread to 150 Cities and Towns
By ELAINE SCIOLINO
New York Times
March 19, 2006

First Employment Contract
Wikipedia

Gordon Housworth



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